Recently Cara and I took our kids to Pine, Arizona for a couple (nearly) unplugged days, for both them and us! Was it a lot of work? Yes. Was it a memory-making adventure we’ll treasure? Also yes.
Let’s be real—three days in a cabin with your kids nearly all the way unplugged is an undertaking, but on the drive back to the Valley afterwards we both agreed (with bags under our eyes) that we were so glad we did it.
They’re too little for camp, so this version of Moms Winter Cabin Campout was as close to winter camp as they’ll get for a few more years.
As many of you know, I’m a big fan of Jessica Smartt’s writing, and her newest book, Let Them Be Kids, talks about letting kids find adventure and letting them be bored. I think we achieved both of those this weekend, which is a win in my parenting book. Her quote says it better than I can: “…getting a slew of kids dressed for and schlepped to an adventure definitely requires time and energy…But it is easier in the long run because nature heals and nurtures children. I witness it in my own kids how they come alive when they’re outdoors…”
Here’s a few of our tips for a slow, unplugged cabin retreat with littles to enable them to pursue adventure and boredom.
Choose Your Cabin Wisely
We chose this cabin on Airbnb precisely because of all its offerings for an unplugged weekend: an epic game room, 2 acres of property to explore, laundry and a well-stocked kitchen. First, let me tell you, this game room was incredible—it had foosball, ping pong and a pool table all backed up into the drive way of the property. To say the kids loved it was an understatement (but we did spend a lot of time also chasing ping pong balls!).
When the kids tired of the wrap-around porch, the game room and the toys we packed, we were happy to turn them lose onto the two acres of property to explore. (Bonus—we could sit on the porch and see the older two easily while having lots of room for Mavvy to crawl around the porch).
Having a washer and dryer inside the cabin also made us more relaxed moms because we could throw muddy clothes in after bedtime both nights we were there. Serious win.
Additionally, against both of our natures to stay home, we tried our darnest to stay at the cabin which was made possible by a lovely kitchen. Kids eat all the time, and we leaned into it with the beautiful kitchen at this cabin that was fully stocked, even down to two Instapots!
Only Pack Old Clothing
Yes, this made us chiller moms and we’re okay admitting it. Asking your kids to go outside for the majority of the day is guaranteeing their clothing are getting stains, scratches and even potentially, holes. Remember even to bring old shoes—that’s one thing that we sometimes forget. (Pro tip: Cara also packed her kids rain boots for “snow” play and they worked great—We say “snow” because they were really leftover ice piles lingering from the last snow, but the kids still wanted to play in them.)
Pack Too Much Butter (and Wine)
One of the best parts of this slow weekend was the delicious cooking we did. There’s something about a cozy cabin and cooler temps to really lean into rich recipes that take time to simmer on a stovetop, because for once, we’re not running around and trying to make a 15-minute meal.
We packed 8 sticks of butter for the three days, and guys, we used most of it! We cooked a few meals out of one of my favorite cookbooks, Let’s Stay In, by Ashley Rodriguez, plus a few standards like steak and mashed potatoes, and Cara’s amazing breakfast sammies one morning.
We coffee’d until it was an appropriate time for wine. Thankfully, the cabin had plenty of k-cups stocked and we brought 5 bottles of wine (just in case). The porch had a perfect view of the sunset, which paired perfectly with a nice rosé.
The cabin also had a fire pit on the porch, so we were glad we had packed s’mores ingredients just in case. The kids roasted marshmallows both nights (and one night, we had chocolate mousse, too!). We seriously ate so well. (Full transparency, there was also soooo many snacks and a batch of macaroni and cheese, because kids!)
There is a cute little market down the road from the cabin, so if you forget any essentials, or run out of butter, you don’t have to venture too far to restock.
All in all, Cara and I left the cabin a little more tired than when we arrived, but in the happy-heart type of exhaustion that is so prevalent in motherhood. We’re already looking forward to recreating this in the summer season to experience a different piece of land for the kids to explore.